We think adding a new regulatory system for certifying engineers for general competence is unnecessary, inefficient and confusing for the public. Statutory certification of general competence would duplicate Engineering New Zealand’s Chartered Member assessment process, which is a voluntary professional recognition and competence scheme that’s internationally benchmarked.
Chartered Member signifies general competence and professionalism
A Chartered Member meets an internationally benchmarked level of general competence and professionalism. Chartered Membership is underpinned by a Code of Ethical Conduct, continuing professional development, and a strong complaints and disciplinary process, which are all designed to maintain public trust and confidence.
Chartered Membership was specifically designed to complement a licensing regulatory system. The intention was always to rename this membership class “Chartered Engineer”, in line with other professional engineering bodies internationally, once a new licensing system was in place.
We’ve raised the bar for our members, including developing a new Code of Ethical Conduct that all members must commit to every year, overhauling the complaints process, and introducing a requirement for annual professional development.
Government regulation vs self regulation
We believe government regulation should be restricted to areas of public safety, while the profession should regulate general competence and professionalism.
MBIE’s proposal means the government would regulate both spheres.
CPEng shouldn’t be replaced by certification – it should be replaced by licensing
The MBIE discussion document positions certification as replacing CPEng. In other countries, a general quality mark like CPEng is typically taken care of through self-regulation by a professional body, not through government regulation.
Replacing CPEng with licensing is a better response for aligning regulation with risk.
Part of MBIE’s justification for certification is its ability to accommodate areas of engineering outside of the building and construction sector, where the current CPEng Register is called up under other Regulations. This currently includes the certification of amusement devices, heavy vehicles and the design verification of cranes, pressure equipment and passenger ropeways.
In our view, these represent areas of safety-critical engineering work and should be covered by a licensing scheme, rather than general certification.
Adding certification creates a more confusing system
We understand certification is intended to underpin licensing by certifying engineers’ general competence and professionalism. If it’s a prerequisite for licencing, it would add a new and additional layer of regulation and cost.
At the moment, having two voluntary quality-mark systems, one statutory (CPEng) and the other self-regulatory (Chartered Membership), is confusing for the public. We think a three-layer scheme made up of licensing, certification and membership would be more confusing than the existing system.